To safely move cattle, it is important to understand two concepts: the “flight zone” and the “point of balance.”
Understanding the flight zone will reduce stress on cattle and mitigate the risk of injury. The “flight zone” is a cow’s personal space. It is the area directly surrounding a cow. If outside movement or actions occur in this area that are perceived as a threat, the cow can respond with alarm and escape behavior.
Keep in mind:
- The flight zone increases when a cow becomes excited.
- The flight zone increases when a cow is approached “head on”.
- Calm cattle are easier to handle.
- If cows become excited, it takes approximately 20 to 30 minutes for them to calm down.
- Remain quiet when moving cattle, yelling and loud noise causes stress. High pitched sounds are especially stressful.
The goal is to reduce cattle excitement levels, allowing them to move at their own pace. Placing cattle in pens together, rather than alone, also reduces stress.